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Guy Fawkes Day comes to America
November 4, 2011 6:24 PM   Subscribe

U.S. Credit Unions report that over 650,000 consumers have joined during October, representing more than a year's worth of members in a single month, as Britain's Guy Fawkes Day (Nov. 5th) becomes Bank Transfer Day (tips).

Bank Transfer Day's organizers emphasize that their movement has shares sentiments but not methods with Occupy Wall St., but remain grateful for the publicity brought by OWS, and the Credit Unions have happily embraced the Guy Fawkes Mask in their marketing.
posted by jeffburdges (143 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anyone seen a list of large banks that collectively announced fee hikes in September, along with Bank of America's $5 per month fee?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:26 PM on November 4, 2011


Fuck yeah! And they said the Occupiers were just a bunch of ineffectual hippies who wanted nothing more than to hang out in parks playing drums and smoking weed. Make no mistake, the shouting and the marching and the arrests in front of and inside of banks have given this movement the kind of publicity that it could never otherwise have gotten. This may not have been initiated under the auspices of OWS, but it is a victory for the Occupation nonetheless.
posted by Scientist at 6:27 PM on November 4, 2011 [25 favorites]


You can expect new legislative curbs on credit unions from the next Congress.

You can bank on it.
posted by Trurl at 6:28 PM on November 4, 2011 [25 favorites]


I closed my Bank of America account today, explaining I was moving to a credit union. They informed me I need to re-deposit $0.50 to cover a pro-rated fee on my savings account.

Keep the Change™, assholes.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 6:28 PM on November 4, 2011 [59 favorites]


Oh, and jeffburdges, due to public outcry Bank of America and several others who had planned to implement the $5/month debit card fee have canceled their plans, at least for now. I'm sure they'll find some other way to squeeze it out of us, using something more arcane and more difficult to clearly identify and attack.

Bank of America nixes $5 debit card fee
posted by Scientist at 6:29 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Too little too late: Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase abandon plans to charge monthly fees for debit card use.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:30 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been keeping my (personal) money under the mattress but I keep hearing good things about CUs. I may decide to pool together with some friends so we can all put our money under the same mattress.
posted by DU at 6:30 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The ill-fated $5 fee isn't the only reason to go to a credit union.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:33 PM on November 4, 2011 [26 favorites]


One reminder if you're doing this: A lot of these big banks will re-open your closed account and ding you for overdraft fees if you've got a recurring transaction you forgot to cancel or something like that. Give yourself a few weeks just to make sure you really did cancel/switch over everything.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:34 PM on November 4, 2011 [26 favorites]


Coming up next: Banks buy legislation to crush the credit unions.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:35 PM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Been with a CU since I was a kid. (Thanks mom and dad!) It used to be kind of a hassle back in the days when more of my banking had to be handled at an actual branch location, but I stuck with it for the better loan rates and lower fees and such. These days with electronic transfers available for pretty much everything, and online management services I can't imagine why anyone stays with the more traditional banks.
posted by calamari kid at 6:37 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I work with both CUs and banks. I like CUs, in general, but to be frank, they're run almost identically on the back end. Don't think that the CU automatically has your best interest in mind just because they call you a "member" rather than a "customer."
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:38 PM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Just closed my BoA account out less than an hour ago, and boy did it feel good. Took over a half hour to see a bank officer too. I just smiled when asked why and said that I'd been meaning to do it for years, which is at least a part of the truth. I didn't see the point in explaining to him that for me, "Too Big to Fail™" translates as "Too Big to Exist," and if my government doesn't have the balls to step in and break them up, then I'd just have to do my little part to help shrink the bank myself. The bank officer looked like he'd had a rough day, so I just said "thank you" and walked out with my cashier's check. Man, did that weird, walking down the sidewalk with nearly all my cash assets on me. Was very glad to get it deposited into my shiny new credit union account.

Too big to fail my ass. If you're so big you'd bring down the economy if you went under, it's time to break you up into more manageable sizes.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:41 PM on November 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


I work with both CUs and banks. I like CUs, in general, but to be frank, they're run almost identically on the back end. Don't think that the CU automatically has your best interest in mind just because they call you a "member" rather than a "customer."

I think the argument for moving your money to a small bank or credit union is stronger than the argument for credit unions specifically. Part of the reason that BoA, Wells Fargo, and the like are powerful is that they're huge; spread that wealth around and thing get better,

Of course, I have all my money in Bank of America because it's easy and convenient, so I'm something of a hypocrite on this point.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:42 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


ugh. 'did that feel weird.'
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:42 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]



One reminder if you're doing this: A lot of these big banks will re-open your closed account and ding you for overdraft fees if you've got a recurring transaction you forgot to cancel or something like that. Give yourself a few weeks just to make sure you really did cancel/switch over everything.


This almost destroyed my credit report. Years ago I had a BoA account (initially it was Fleet, before they got bought out). I closed it and moved my money to a small community bank. About a year after the fact, a certain unnamed power company in NYC mistakenly tried to charge my account, as I had auto payments set up with my BoA account at the time.

I had no idea for nearly a year after that, when I started getting calls from collections about an overdraft fee in my BoA account. It took months of painful phone conversations with all parties involved to resolve the issue and get it off my credit report.

The point is: even if you DO switch everything over, you're not necessarily safe. Big banks will try to rape you one way or another. You can run, but you can't hide.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:43 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree that the point is to get your money into smaller institutions. The nice lady at BECU didn't realize it, but I nearly walked out the door when she brightly pointed out that BECU is the nation's second largest credit union. But then i realized 'second largest credit union' was still a gnat compared to the behemoths that are the big banks, and just decided to let that one go.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:45 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Closed my skank of america account a couple weeks ago and just received my remaining balance via check today. My credit union has awesome friggin rates and I love it. I'm making INTEREST on money that's in my CHECKING account! and my CDs are making more than $1 a year! amazing.

I am still trying to figure out how to navigate ATM fees and maximum-withdrawal-amount issues that I didn't have with BOA (my lovely landlords prefer rent to be paid in cash) but otherwise things are going swimmingly.

Although I would like to pose this question to anyone who may have an answer: "leaving big banks" means I should close my (pretty awesome) Citi credit card, right? (sigh)
posted by ghostbikes at 6:48 PM on November 4, 2011


I have usually used three-ish electronic funds transfers when moving banks, costs slightly more hat way, but you're never walking down the street with huge cashiers checks, you take the time making sure the new direct deposit gets set up correctly, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:50 PM on November 4, 2011


I have to admit that I'm really happy with PNC, but on principal alone I am shopping for a local alternative.
posted by Roman Graves at 6:51 PM on November 4, 2011


There was a big move towards Credit Unions in Australia 15, 20 years ago. I got an account, and they were good for a while. I still have one account with a credit union, and one account with a "big" bank (and then credit cards with other banks).

The credit union gives me 5 EFT transactions per month, then charges me $2 per transaction after that, including internet banking. A recent trip to the US, where I used my credit union Visa debit card to pay for things, resulted in $150 worth of fees.

The "big bank" gives me all transactions for free.

I agree that going with smaller banks / credit unions is a great thing from an ideological point of view, but at the end of the day, their internal operations are identical, and it may be the case that the smaller places don't have the same kind of "buffer" of money behind them.
posted by Jimbob at 6:52 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


My funds are held by a little credit union (well, kind of the biggest as well... but they won't let me transfer my account) in small-town Quebec... they gave me a credit card when noone else would , so that's cool.(if you have good credit, you get credit cards. if you have bad credit, you get credit cards. if you have no credit, no you don't get shit. unless you're with a credit union)
posted by Yowser at 6:53 PM on November 4, 2011


Oh also since closing my Bank of America account I've been in a need-cash-immediately bind and had to go to the nearest ATM, which happened to be BOA and they dinged me for a $3 fee (all the Boston ATMs seem to do this though no matter where you are...)

so as a result of my switch they've probably made more money off of me than they would have if I had just kept my lousy "free online checking account" used their ATMs for free all the time.

BUUUUT i'll just try not to think about that.

I'll make it back in interest anyway aaahahahaa
posted by ghostbikes at 6:53 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You should have year end credit card statements online for 2010 and 2009, and eventually 2011, ghostbikes, which should contain a fees and interest section that'll help you gage just how much that card costs.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:53 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


just signed (back) up with a CU today, gonna take my millions from Chase. do I feel warm n fuzzy? fuck yeah!!!
posted by supermedusa at 6:55 PM on November 4, 2011


but on principal alone

good one
posted by found missing at 6:55 PM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Totally agreed, Jimbob. I'm basically a captive audience to the ATMs that are near me, so they'll be able to fee me when I'm desperate anyway.
posted by ghostbikes at 6:55 PM on November 4, 2011


aside from general support I was motivated by Chase recently popping a $10/month fee on checking! I have a savings account there with some balance. $10/month???? thats criminal!
posted by supermedusa at 6:57 PM on November 4, 2011


Serious question:

A lot of the credit unions I'm seeing in my area look like they're restricted to people who belong to a certain union, church, or the like. How do you FIND a credit union in your area that'll accept an "average schlub"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:58 PM on November 4, 2011


I've found the ATMs at Publix take my ATM card without charging any fee, ghostbikes. I forget the specific network they use, but doing some research should eliminate your ATM fee problem.

If you cannot figure it out, I've heard about this little green colored site where people ask questions and other people help them find the answers. ;)
posted by jeffburdges at 7:00 PM on November 4, 2011


Both of us have dithered over the last few years with the idea of moving from WF to a CU, but were inertia'd by the hassle. A couple of weeks ago we sat down and started researching CUs and while we can't break up with our bank on the official break-up-with-your-bank day, we will be doing it in the next week or so.

Empress - we found a number of CUs here that are open to anyone who lives, works, goes to school, or worships in a given county or city. You just kind of have to poke around on their sites.
posted by rtha at 7:04 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


good one

Really? Man, you sure burned me...
posted by Roman Graves at 7:05 PM on November 4, 2011


haha jeffburdges - mostly it's the fact that the ATMs that are directly next to my work and house are big banks and it was friday and I needed to get my rent and just get on the damn train and it was just that one time. I can easily walk a couple extra blocks and get to an in-network ATM for my CU. Others might not be so lucky!
posted by ghostbikes at 7:09 PM on November 4, 2011


Speaking of hippies, a bunch of them started a credit union in a NY college town many years ago and it's still going strong. I'm sure there are others.
posted by mareli at 7:11 PM on November 4, 2011


I've heard that BofA is considering following the lead of that bank in Spain and putting snakes in its ATMs to discourage withdrawals.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:11 PM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ahh Presto! was the network Publix ATMs use.

Empress : NY Times says "some of the biggest credit unions with some of the best deals have quietly opened up membership to everybody [which] infuriates bankers."
posted by jeffburdges at 7:11 PM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just realized that I haven't been with a bank since I turned 18ish. Our CU pays a portion back to each member once a year. They also offer cash back if you use your CC or debit. I'm usually able to avoid atm fees by getting money out when I'm at the cash register of something like a Target or Walgreens.
posted by drezdn at 7:12 PM on November 4, 2011


The bank officer looked like he'd had a rough day, so I just said "thank you" and walked out with my cashier's check. Man, did that weird, walking down the sidewalk with nearly all my cash assets on me. Was very glad to get it deposited into my shiny new credit union account.
Yeah, you should have been able to do an electronic transfer, or at least written yourself a check.

Also, you don't need to close your account right away. You can open up a credit union account and get used to it, then gradually move your money over.

Also, I don't know about credit unions but some places will actually refund any ATM fees you incur by using an out of network ATM. Looking around at some of the credit union sites it looks like some credit unions do offer that service (but not all, apparently)
posted by delmoi at 7:12 PM on November 4, 2011


Those of you concerned about ATM fees at smaller banks might want to shop around. I recently opened the Impact Checking account described on this page and if you meet their requirements (something like one direct deposit or online payment and ten debit card transactions a month) there are no fees, high interest (for a checking account) and they refund all your ATM fees from any domestic ATMs. I haven't completely closed out my Wachovia Wells Fargo account just in case any forgotten items pop up as mentioned above, but it will sure feel good when I do.
posted by TedW at 7:13 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the process of going from the B of A to a more local bank. Surprisingly, Bank of America seem to be dragging their feet with each and every transfer request. My understanding is that they're paying out so much money right now that it's straining their systems. I'll be interested in seeing their next quarterly report.
posted by Gilbert at 7:14 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do you FIND a credit union in your area that'll accept an "average schlub"?

A lot of it depends not on what kind of schlub you are, but also who you know. It's sort of like joining the Stonecutters for some of them -- if you've got a relative who qualifies for one of them, you're in, and as long as you don't need to access the physical branches often, you can apply online, and do any of your deposits at another credit union's ATM (most of them are on the same network).
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 7:15 PM on November 4, 2011


How do you FIND a credit union in your area that'll accept an "average schlub"?

This recent AskMe may also be of interest.
posted by twirlip at 7:15 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos:
How do you FIND a credit union in your area that'll accept an "average schlub"?

CU Locator
Find a Credit Union

Lots of credit unions these days have opened up their restrictions, the one's I've belonged to recently the only requirements were that you were or had lived or worked in the city where the credit union was based.
posted by hambone at 7:15 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I don't know about credit unions but some places will actually refund any ATM fees you incur by using an out of network ATM.

The local bank I bank with* also does this. So also check out local banks!

*Bay Area peeps, Mechanics Bank is AWESOME.
posted by grapesaresour at 7:15 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


... that you are living or had lived ...
posted by hambone at 7:16 PM on November 4, 2011


It may be worth noting that in quite a few cities almost every 7-11 has a co-op network ATM in it (including my adopted city of Santa Clara) so check that out if you're in a major metropolitan area.

We're planning to move to a credit union (with a nice 8.75% APR CC) once our house refi goes through.
posted by Talez at 7:18 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Switched FROM a credit union today—here in Key West, a very tiny business account of mine that I had left open at Florida Keys Federal Credit Union turned to have been charging me...get ready for it...$15 a month for not maintaining a balance of $1k.

In less than a year I had paid $150 in charges!!

And I though I was PO'd by Bank of America's fee. Today I nearly lost my cool at a credit union!
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:20 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My credit union is in a different city from where I live and I will probably never visit the branch in person since I don't have a car. I'm only eligible because I live or work in a county that they cover. I asked if I'm allowed to keep my account if I move out of state and I sure can! They send me everything in the mail and are awesome to speak to on the phone, it just has to be during office hours (now that I think about it I will somewhat miss not being able to call BOA drunk at 3AM when I lose my wallet). I did the entire application process online and via snail mail and made sure to pick a CU that has online check depositing when I was comparing the ones I was eligible for (because I wouldn't be able to easily get out to a branch office).

My CU's online check depositing system leaves MUCH to be desired (shitty image scanning java applet that crashes a lot on my mac) but it gets the job done and I don't receive enough checks for it to be an issue for me.
posted by ghostbikes at 7:21 PM on November 4, 2011


Once my wife's credit card was accidentally charged $5000 by a vendor (boring story, but it was genuinely an innocent mistake). We had no idea until the auto-payment hit our credit union account, which had a balance much less than that.

At most banks, that would be a disaster, the beginning of who knows how many overdraft fees and other crap. In our case, I got a call from someone at the credit union saying, Mr. Straight, we have a situation here, is this a mistake? And then they gave me the chance to call the credit card company and get it straightened out. Our account was never charged or fined or anything.
posted by straight at 7:28 PM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Death by a million papercuts! Can't wait to serve BoA papercut #1,000,001 in the coming few weeks.
posted by threeants at 7:31 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been with a credit union for years, and I love it. I get better interest rates, more free checks than I can use, free EFTs, an entire library of free financial advice, a $5 minimum savings balance, and they pay me back for $10 a month in ATM fees from other banks. They'll also give you a blank check (up to the approved amount, of course) when you get an auto loan, so you can go to the dealership, negotiate a price, and then create your loan amount on site, aaaand they do free gap insurance as well.
posted by rollbiz at 7:34 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you should have been able to do an electronic transfer, or at least written yourself a check.

Also, you don't need to close your account right away. You can open up a credit union account and get used to it, then gradually move your money over.


I probably should have been clearer, but yeah, the CU account was opened weeks and weeks ago. Today was just the final step. Heck, I'd meant to close it all out at least a couple weeks ago, but figured it wouldn't hurt to time it closer to the bank transfer day. BoA will do electronic transfers, but they charge rather a lot, and a simple cashier's check was good enough for a three block walk.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:37 PM on November 4, 2011


My primary bank is Paypal, as I do a LOT of business online. The debit/credit card is awesome (1% cash back for credit purchases doled out monthly), and I can use it to pay a few bills directly.

My secondary bank is CA B&T. It employs local residents, and they are very active supporters of our small community. They know me by name, and apologize if I wait more than 30 seconds in line. I wouldn't dream of taking my business away from them.

I agree that B of A is a big beast that could use less business.
posted by luckynerd at 7:43 PM on November 4, 2011


I do all of my business banking with a CU and love them. When we first opened up, our printed checks hadn't arrived in time for first payroll. I didn't want to cut blank "starter checks" to my staff, so I called the CU to see if they could do cashier's checks.

Instead, they typed up individual checks for each employee, stuffed the envelope, and didn't charge me a dime.

To this day, the clerks count out my deposits, fill out the slip, and deliver my register change for me!

Every time the sales rep d'jour from BofA or Wells Fargo comes in the door wanting our business, I tell them that story. They walk out the door and we never see them again. Until the next poor schlub takes their job and the cycle repeats.

Meanwhile, Stephanie and Jennifer are still taking my deposits every single day at my CU.
posted by webhund at 7:49 PM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


I belong to a university-connected CU. They're terrific. I keep a 2nd account for a non-profit group, and realized that I'd been getting charged monthly. I spoke with the manager and they reversed the charges with no hassle. I needed a short term loan - no problem.

I was able to join the CU because I took a class at the uni the year before. But they didn't verify so anybody could join. I used to live quite near them and they started hand- delivering my loan paperwork. My only better banking experience was a mutual(savings & loan) bank in college, but those are mostly all gone.
posted by theora55 at 7:49 PM on November 4, 2011


"...due to public outcry Bank of America and several others who had planned to implement the $5/month debit card fee have canceled their plans, at least for now. I'm sure they'll find some other way to squeeze it out of us, using something more arcane and more difficult to clearly identify and attack."

I doubt it's due to public outcry. More than 600,000 people have bailed from the major banks, making it a business risk management decision. Also, they are aware of this Saturday's move by consumers to put their money in CU's; removing the debit card fees will probably keep a lot of people from changing by making them think that "everything's OK". Sadly, six months from now, those folks in the latter group will have new fees to deal with - guaranteed!

Today, I joined my local credit union. I'd been intending to do this for some time, and procrastinated; the debit card fee so outraged me that I would have crossed a mountain to get it done.

I feel sorry for the hard working mid-level and service drones at Wells, BofA, Chase, etc. They're just trying to pay the rent, but screw the senior executives in those institutions, and their Boards, as well. They are thieving swine and traitors to America!
posted by Vibrissae at 7:53 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was in that Aussie bank exodus for CUs 15 years ago Jimbob. I know in many ways it's similar fruit from the same tree, but in theory, the CUs are meant to help their members whereas banks help stockholders. My CU has become a bit more fee-happy recently (as a consequence of a couple of amalgamations/takeovers) and I was fairly grumbly when I agreed to a $6 monthly fee that allows for unlimited transactions (except at the *wrong* ATMs of course). My hate for banks remains though; they discriminate against poor people by making rich/dependable customers have no fees. I won't abide that.
posted by peacay at 7:56 PM on November 4, 2011


I agree that going with smaller banks / credit unions is a great thing from an ideological point of view, but at the end of the day, their internal operations are identical, and it may be the case that the smaller places don't have the same kind of "buffer" of money behind them.

My (admittedly imperfect) understanding is that the really large Investment/Savings bank hybrids use the Awesome Power Of Everybody's Checking Accounts to back their high risk wackiness. That didn't used to be legal, but now it is, and it sucks. Working with a smaller institution that doesn't do that is less about getting happy, down-home bank service and artisnal checking accounts, and more about using the power of markets to kick investment/savings bank hybrids in the nuts for being stupid.

I've been using a local credit union for almost a decade now, and I'm really digging it. Every month they post a nice little paper on the wall listing the details of the bank's assets, outstanding loans, deposits, etc etc. They only have five offices around the chicago area and I pay ATM fees, but it's a pretty good system overall.
posted by verb at 8:04 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm probably stuck with the large bank that has my mortgage until we get around to refinancing (which will not be between now and Guy Fawkes', alas). But about five minutes after we refi, which will be through a CU or USAA, I'm so out of that large bank.

The only major complaint I've ever had about any of the credit unions I've ever banked with was, surprisingly, the JSC credit union. This was back in the early 90s and they used to use the phone line to call the bank's computers to approve the transaction. The computers went down all the time, which meant they couldn't give an approval. I've never had that problem with any other CU, but it was annoying as hell at the time.
posted by immlass at 8:08 PM on November 4, 2011


Roman Graves: "I have to admit that I'm really happy with PNC, but on principal alone I am shopping for a local alternative."

I'm pretty happy with PNC myself, although I know that they've been buying every other bank lately. I'm a little torn, they've been my bank for years and years and they've been really nice to deal with. They don't charge anything for checking and pay all my ATM fees when I used someone else's machine. And they are actually my local bank, the headquarters is two miles from my house. We are actually also members of a Federal Credit Union and use a credit card with them but they're a lot more of a pain to deal with then a local bank.
posted by octothorpe at 8:14 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Curiously, my bank has announced that "due to maintenance" their online mobile banking site will not be available on the 5th. Huh.
posted by OolooKitty at 8:18 PM on November 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


Another somewhat compelling reason for joining a credit union is that you can go to the ATM of just about ANY credit union in the US and not have to pay a fee.
posted by Danf at 8:20 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Curiously, my bank has announced that "due to maintenance" their online mobile banking site will not be available on the 5th. Huh.

That is some bullshit right there.
posted by rtha at 8:25 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yay! Local credit unions are the bomb. My parents have banked with one for years and the people working customer service now know them by first names.

Totally piggybacking on this to ask: is Charles Schwab an evil, evil institution? I bank with them because I anticipate spending a decent amount of time overseas, and they do not charge for ATM withdrawals all over the world.... can a credit union offer any kind of comparable bank account? I would love to switch to a local CU but am concerned about what that would mean for my traveling plans.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:29 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I gave up on BofA around 1982, as a teen, when I found my savings account with them was losing more money via service charges than it ever earned in interest. I always wondered how long they would have let that ripoff go on. In all the time since then, I've never heard any good about them, and wondered why anyone would use their services when given a choice.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:34 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


One reminder if you're doing this: A lot of these big banks will re-open your closed account and ding you for overdraft fees if you've got a recurring transaction you forgot to cancel or something like that. Give yourself a few weeks just to make sure you really did cancel/switch over everything.

Chase did this to us for six months. We had to get a lawyer to write a letter to make them finally close our account out for real. I only believe that it's closed now because they keep sending glossy letters to me trying to get me to open a checking account with them.
posted by KathrynT at 8:35 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those who are saying that you can use an EFT to transfer funds to a credit union, can you explain how to accomplish that? I just tried Wells Fargo's online banking and the only options they provide are to transfer funds between accounts within that bank (checking to savings, or to someone else's account). I have an account at a credit union already, so it's literally just shifting funds.
posted by cali at 8:41 PM on November 4, 2011


I wonder if this might possibly get big enough to cause an asset ratio problem for any of the banks people are moving out of. I mean, a real run on banks might not be such a great idea, overall.

Though, yeah, I moved out of Wells Fargo into a credit union over a year ago. I'm with the principle of the thing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:45 PM on November 4, 2011


You'd never cause a run on Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc. with less than 1 million account closures per month, but you might resolve the too big to fail problem if you keep it up long enough. In fact, the stockholders might eventually break up the bank if you can demonstrate the ability to impose negative growth and short sellers join the fray.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:03 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The nice lady at BECU didn't realize it, but I nearly walked out the door when she brightly pointed out that BECU is the nation's second largest credit union. But then i realized 'second largest credit union' was still a gnat compared to the behemoths that are the big banks, and just decided to let that one go.

BECU had $9.967B in assets in the 3rd quarter of 2011. Were it a bank it wouldn't come close to being one of the 50 largest banks in the US.

I've been with BECU since a couple weeks before the WaMu collapse and have found it to be pretty good. Better than my old credit union, service-wise on par with old WaMu.
posted by dw at 9:03 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I can now say that I'm part of this asset movement. Partially motivated by Wells Fargo telling me that they're going to start charging me to have my account (shortly after Chase, who absorbed my previous bank, decided to start charging me and cause me to switch). I'm glad to be part of the momentum anyway, but it pretty much guaranteed that I would move my money to a credit union when my bank announced that they would charge me for the privilege of letting them hold on to my money.

Also, if my experience today with opening a new account and my experience with closing my Chase account is any indication, opening this credit union account will be drastically easier than closing an already existing superbank one. I just find that odd.
posted by Stunt at 9:20 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of it depends not on what kind of schlub you are, but also who you know. It's sort of like joining the Stonecutters for some of them -- if you've got a relative who qualifies for one of them, you're in

See, this right here is a big enough reason for me to never want to use one. I've always hated that with any group, and where i'm putting my money? I want none of that. I should be able to go in, say i want to deposit my money, and them say "Right away sir!" with a smile. The fact that i have to know someone who knows someone, or be the "right kind of person", fuck that.

Not all banks are bad btw. Several small town ones are/were family owned. For example, growing up, my dad and mom started a bank in our small town of 810. By the time they retired and sold it, they three branches in the area, the other two were in even smaller towns. They got to know the people in the community, and were good to them.
posted by usagizero at 9:30 PM on November 4, 2011


I switched from a bank to a credit union (an Allegiant Bank account that had become a National City account via acquisition) in 2008 when my partner called me at work and said "Hey, just so you know, your bank is on the news." Later that week I walked in to the new downtown Seattle BECU branch to open an account. Just like now, the guy who helped me open my account told me that they had seen such a huge spike in new accounts that they had to hire a new person just to keep up.

I've had no regrets.
posted by gc at 9:47 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not all banks are bad btw.

No, but the good ones have had a habit of getting bought up by the bad ones, so you end up having to deal with the giants whether you like it or not.

Happy Salal customer here. I switched two years ago, after BofA screwed me one too many times, and have had no regrets.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:50 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ill-fated $5 fee isn't the only reason to go to a credit union.

It's not the only reason, it's the last straw. I've been with Bank of America for 16 years, and the resentment over being nickel-and-dimed has been building over most of that time.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:10 PM on November 4, 2011


The other day I went to my CU's website (couldn't leave a bank, since I'm already a CU member -- though I will say trying to get a loan was still a PITA, but I bet if I didn't have a CU it would have been even worse) - anyways, I saw a banner with the transfer day info, and imagine my shock to see the Guy Fawkes mask (with US flag on it, nevertheless) alongside the info.

And it hit me how fucking bizarre this was.

Now, I imagine that a lot of this was inspired by Anon? I can't remember details, or how the Fawkes mask got involved (aside from the idea that it's to be on Guy Fawkes day - which again - seems inspired by Anon, which...)

Well - do you think Alan Moore, when writing in the 80s said "One day this image is going to inspire a bunch of kids to do hacking and shit, and then, it's going to inspire them to call for moving away from a bank, and then the credit unions will use this imagery to promote said call"?

And following this trend, what would a future James Burke say in some weird documentary called Connections 9000 have to say about this lowly comic writer from a working class town in the UK? How far will this image ripple and affect society?
posted by symbioid at 10:22 PM on November 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


I was fairly grumbly when I agreed to a $6 monthly fee that allows for unlimited transactions (except at the *wrong* ATMs of course). My hate for banks remains though; they discriminate against poor people by making rich/dependable customers have no fees. I won't abide that.
A lot of the CUs with branches in mesquite, TX seem to charge monthly fees if you're under a minimum balance. But keep in mind a lot of them are paying ATM fees and the like. It's a much better system then zapping poor people every once in a while whenever they overdraft. Which is what banks used to do. Regaining that revenue is what banks are trying to do now charging $5/mo fees and the like now (which they had to give up on).

That said, I have two checking accounts at US Bank, one of which I never used and have had $5 in their for years and years. (My plan was to use that account with paypal, but I never ended up signing up for another paypal account, so it just sat there)

Just recently though they started charging a $5 monthly fee, and then sales tax on top of that (or whatever) brought my balance to –35¢! I put more cash in right away, worried they were going to charge me an overdraft fee, but that didn't happen.
I gave up on BofA around 1982, as a teen, when I found my savings account with them was losing more money via service charges than it ever earned in interest. I always wondered how long they would have let that ripoff go on. In all the time since then, I've never heard any good about them, and wondered why anyone would use their services when given a choice.
BoA gained clients by buying up other banks, and counting on them not to leave.
For those who are saying that you can use an EFT to transfer funds to a credit union, can you explain how to accomplish that? I just tried Wells Fargo's online banking and the only options they provide are to transfer funds between accounts within that bank (checking to savings, or to someone else's account). I have an account at a credit union already, so it's literally just shifting funds.
Well, hopefully you're new CU account website will let you do it directly, otherwise you could sign up for something like E*Trade an online savings account like ING direct, or, I guess, Paypal, and transfer the money in from one account and then out to the other.
posted by delmoi at 10:33 PM on November 4, 2011


I'm afraid that a mass exodus from big banks could/will have a negative effect on macroeconomic growth, but I'm uneducated about economics. Could someone assuage my fears, ideally by pointing towards an article on this topic by an expert?
posted by Kwine at 10:34 PM on November 4, 2011


My credit union has had the largest 3-month influx of new members in 57 years (though, personally, I recommend Campus USA if you live in Gainesville). Seriously, if you live in northern Florida, you have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to credit unions. It seems to be the only consumer-friendly thing about living in Florida.

Local banks are also good, but good local banks tend to get bought out by the behemoths. That said, I've heard really good things about USAA bank, which non-military people can now use.

I still have a couple of credit cards with behemoths. If I had a job, I would cancel them and get a card with my CU.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:54 PM on November 4, 2011


I hope my fellow MeFites won't mind if I re-post something here that I first posted to my Facebook Wall two days ago. It's definitely germane to this thread...

I just had the worst interaction with a bank that I've ever had in my life. The whole thing was completely bizarre. [Husband] and I have had a joint bank account at Citibank since we got married eight (!) years ago, but we recently set up a new joint account at a nice friendly credit union not far from our house. We've been moving our savings over there in dribs and drabs over the past few months, and I was just about to move over all the annoying automatically deducted stuff, like our mortgage and our health insurance and our phone bill and our electric bill, sometime later this month, before finally closing up the Citibank account for good.

I think I will be accelerating that process now. I don't want to keep my Citibank account open one more day than necessary.

This morning, after dropping [son] off at pre-school, I stopped in at the local Citibank branch on Laurel Canyon in Studio City to deposit two checks, before heading home for breakfast. As I waited in line for a teller, I heard a guy ahead of me, up at one of the teller windows, ask his teller, "but what if we don't have that much money? what are we supposed to do?", sounding kind of shocked and forlorn. I didn't really pay attention to it at the time, but later on, I realized what had caused him to say that, and what his interaction was about.

When it was my turn, I walked up to the open teller window, a different one. I smiled at the nice middle-aged teller lady, and swiped my debit card, before handing over to her the two checks for deposit into our savings account. It should have been a quick in-and-out transaction. But the teller stared at her computer screen for a minute and then finally turned to me. "Do you have any other relationship with Citibank?" she asked. Um, what? I didn't understand. "Do you have any other relationship with us?"

Relationship? I had closed my old personal Citibank account, which I've had all my adult life and which had come with me from my old life in Westchester, New York, just two weeks before. (That personal account, too, was moving to yet another credit union. Our kids' personal accounts are also at local credit unions. You may be sensing a theme here.) Was there a problem? Oh shit, did Citibank fuck up and accidentally close my joint account instead of my personal account?

"Do you have a relationship? Do you have anything else with us, like a mortgage, or a loan, or...?" What? Oh. No. No, I don't. Our mortgage was originated with a local group called Metrocities, who passed it in to the infamous Countrywide, who passed it on to Bank of America a few years ago. Actually, our mortgage is probably "owned" by several tranches in several mortgage-backed securities spread amongst public pension funds and overseas sovereign wealth funds and the Federal Reserve, but whatever, that's getting picky.

"Because there are going to be new service charges added to your bank account structure in a few days, and perhaps you would like to speak to one of our representatives here to change your account level to avoid those service charges?" Ohhh, I see. By starting to move our savings account funds over to the credit union, we were starting to fall below the magic cut-off number for all those new fees -- excuse me, "service charges" -- the banks want to impose to make up for their capital shortfalls.

"No, that's okay," I said, "we're moving away from Citibank to a credit union pretty soon anyway, so we don't need to..."

I think she only heard the "moving" part, because her next line was emphatic: "This is something that everyone is doing. *All* the banks are doing this." Well, actually, no, I know that several banks have backtracked in just the past few days, due to public pressure, but that wasn't really the point.

"Uh, yes, which is why we're moving to a credit union," I replied, emphasizing the last bit. And that did it. From the sudden angry way she reacted to the words "credit union", you would have thought I had called her a dirty fucking cunt. And from that point on, she was glaring and her speech was terse and clipped, and she purposely dropped my first name into more and more of her sentences. And suddenly, the whole standing-at-the-teller-window experience became some sort of ideological stand-off. And I had not yet had my coffee.

The teller told me that credit unions were inconvenient, and that for her and her lifestyle, running around doing stuff, she liked the ability to just pop into a bank branch. (The credit union we are moving to is on the same street as this Citibank branch, just a few blocks closer to Ventura Boulevard.) And that credit unions were smaller and not as connected -- which, I told her, was, um, kind of the point. But after listening to her reaction, the way she was just going on extolling the virtues of banks for a while, I eventually had enough. I told her that I did not appreciate the way Citibank's executives had handled themselves, nor that the bank had taken taxpayer money, and I did not want to be a customer anymore. Had she heard of the group Occupy Wall Street? She said she had. Well, I said, she would be hearing from them a lot more as time went on...

(Note that I did not say I was a member of Occupy Wall Street. I am not. I like capitalism, eating animal products, showers, and I dislike drum circles.)

The teller glared at me, and said "Don't believe everything you read."

And that did it. An employee from Citibank, of all companies, was lecturing me about accuracy in reporting, and honesty? WTF.

"Is there anything else I can help you with today?" she sneered at me. Yes, I said. I would like to withdraw $5,000 in cash from my savings account. In $20's, if possible. Now. And I would like to hear the exact instructions for closing my account, so that my husband and I could come in later this week to do that.

I have to admit that it was fun seeing her tediously count out all that cash. It's one thing to say that you, a customer, are taking your ball and going home from the soccer field. It's another thing to have a visual display of that fact. And of course I knew that by now I was holding up the line and the other people waiting were getting to watch this whole thing.

Then the teller tried one last time before I left to see if I would sit down with one of the bank representatives and see about adjusting my account structure, to avoid the upcoming fees on the account. I tried to explain "it's not about the fees..." but I don't think she understood. That the fees are just a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. That I've had a Citibank account for basically my whole life, I told her, maybe 25 years, and that my husband and I just couldn't support such an organization any longer.

"Good luck, Brooke," she said sarcastically, staring at me, as I walked away with the cash in two little white envelopes.

It was the worst, and weirdest, experience I've ever had at a bank. And all I had wanted to do when I walked in there was *deposit* two checks *into* my account.

Do I have a "relationship" with Citibank? I think we can call this one a divorce.


(I opened my new credit union personal account that same afternoon, and my husband and I are closing the Citibank joint bank account tomorrow. It's a coincidence that this action will fall on "Move Your Money" day, but it's also a nice one. We'll make sure to go back to the same branch to do it, too...)
posted by Asparagirl at 11:20 PM on November 4, 2011 [46 favorites]


Here's an ABC news article
posted by delmoi at 11:29 PM on November 4, 2011


I'm pretty happy with PNC myself, although I know that they've been buying every other bank lately. I'm a little torn, they've been my bank for years and years and they've been really nice to deal with.

If some people are happy with their big bank, why not just stick with it? If the less happy customers move to another bank/CU where they are happier, and the happy customers stick with the accounts they already have, shouldn't more of a balance return anyway?
posted by wondermouse at 11:34 PM on November 4, 2011


Interestingly the Bank transfer day facebook page says this:
While the Bank Transfer Day movement acknowledges the enthusiasm from Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, the Bank Transfer Day movement was neither inspired by, derived from nor organized by Anonymous or the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Bank Transfer Day movement does not endorse any activities conducted by Anonymous or Occupy Wall Street.
However, they they use a Guy Fawkes image as their icon... (specifically, and somewhat ironically, one per-pixel multiplied by a US flag image)
posted by delmoi at 11:35 PM on November 4, 2011


If some people are happy with their big bank, why not just stick with it?

I'm happy with PNC because it's convenient. I don't get charged outrageous fees and I can't drive anywhere in my town for more than five minutes without passing a branch.

On the other hand, I can't drive anywhere in my town for more than five minutes without passing a branch. Next year PNC will be the sixth largest bank in total assets, and that makes me uncomfortable regardless of convenience. Despite being easy, I just don't want to be feeding that juggernaut.

Happy now, yes. Happier with someone local? Also yes.
posted by Roman Graves at 12:27 AM on November 5, 2011


(Note that I did not say I was a member of Occupy Wall Street. I am not. I like capitalism, eating animal products, showers, and I dislike drum circles.)

I'm not sure I like otherwise palatable righteous indignation seasoned with tone-deaf disclaimers.
posted by lumensimus at 12:40 AM on November 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


You know, if you manage to lay off the snotty ideological/political purity tests, and stick to the really important stuff -- like, say, the economy and banks and Wall Street -- OWS might have a real shot at becoming a broad-based and powerful movement. I'm much farther to the right, politically, of most people on MetaFilter, and yet I can see big swaths of agreement and overlap where we could find common ground and vent common anger.

But if you want me to also pretend to like Government Mule and Spearhead and feel some kind of breast-beating guilt over my cheeseburger habit, that's really asking too much. Even a Glass-Steagall fangirl has her limits.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:59 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Asparagirl- Who is administering purity tests here? Where are you getting this stuff from? That one line lumensimus pointed out and this last post have me wondering if your not just someone who randomly spouts hostility. Probably mod-bait anyhow, but I gotta wonder about that narrative above...
posted by Locobot at 2:21 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


symbioid- pretty interesting ideas there. I would think that as he grew up, Alan Moore just saw Guy Fawkes was just this guy they burned in effigy and lit off fireworks once a year for some reason to celebrate the established government. I'm sure Moore knows his history pretty well, but as he dropped out/was kicked out of mainstream society perhaps he came to see Fawkes as a symbol of opposition to that same society. The real history isn't particularly inspiring, Fawkes was kind of the shoe-bomber of his day, a failed terrorist who sought the return of a Catholic monarchy.

If I have time today I'm going to open an account online with the local CU, I've had pretty good service from Wells Fargo, but there are just too many reasons to switch. WF is probably the least egregiously terrible of the big banks, they were pretty well forced to take TARP money (according to Frontline). But with WF they're still the multi-million dollar bonuses for he execs and plenty of funding to politicians I would never vote for.
posted by Locobot at 2:48 AM on November 5, 2011


[Asparagirl, you seem to be starting a weird, aggro derail about stuff that has nothing to do with this thread or post – after some drive-by snideness at the tail end of a super long comment expressing frustration at similar behavior? It would be nice if you could rein that in... and if we could all now bypass the hiccup and keep on keeping on.]
posted by taz at 3:21 AM on November 5, 2011


My credit union charged me a fee! A fee! Just to join! It cost me a whole dollar to be a member... forever. And I have to keep a minimum balance in my checking account there of $5.
posted by tommyD at 4:32 AM on November 5, 2011


ghostbikes, since you seem to be in MA (and I don't know from your comments whether your CU is), I suggest finding a better CU, since they are not all alike, and some of the MA ones refund ATM fees from any ATM. JDCU is one, but you have to live in that part of the Merrimack valley to join. Anyway, look around.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:32 AM on November 5, 2011


I switched to a CU a couple years and I've never been happier. I was with my old bank for more than 30 years, but once they were bought out it was like that didn't matter anymore. So I left. The tellers all know me by name and if I accidentally make an overdraft, they just take the money out of my savings account to cover it.
posted by ambulocetus at 4:36 AM on November 5, 2011


I disliked that disclaimer too, delmoi, but Americans aren't going to acknowledge the pro-democracy message of this year's revolutions and protests overnight.

You know, the Credit Union National Association's president Bill Cheney says "the current surge in account openings has been more sustained than similar surges in the past", which speaks to the underlying ideology drawing on Occupy Wall St.

We should continue running with this "dump your bank" message whoever supports it while reminding people that the core support comes from Anonymous and Occupy Wall St.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:07 AM on November 5, 2011


Last month I decided to switch from BoA to USAA. I transferred out everything but one last auto-debited insurance payment that was set to hit.

Then the night before the insurance debit, I was "fortunate" enough to be part of that XBox Live account hack where someone bought $70 worth of points on my debit card.

So now I have no use for my BoA account and the debit card associated with it was canceled, but I have to keep the account open long enough for the fraud dispute -- which I'm told can take up to 90 days. The only money in the account is the $70 temporary credit they gave me (which I can't transfer out) until they resolve the dispute. Except it became $57 after the first month's $13/mo "account maintenance fee" since my account now has a low balance. Oh, and then I had to pay a $30 stop payment fee since one of my other automatic monthly payments didn't change over to my new account in time, and it would have overdrafted, which would of course cost me additional fees. (Apparently telling BoA to take off overdraft protection on your account won't stop it from being overdrafted by electronic payments, and as noted above, closing the account won't prevent them from re-opening it for an automatic payment) Oh, and then this month I'll have another $13 maintenance fee, and if it extends to December, well, there's on there too.

So basically, I would have broken more or less even AND saved myself a crapload of annoyance, long phone calls to the bank, and headaches if I'd just closed my account and not bothered with the fraud dispute.

THIS IS WHY I'M LEAVING, BANK OF AMERICA. THIS IS WHY.
posted by olinerd at 5:14 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


A couple people have responded to my earlier comment by sharing links to "credit union finder" web sites. Unfortunately, those were the very sites I had already tried to find a credit union in my area, where I was seeing the "you have to be a member of this church to join...." notes.

So lemme do this -- I understand that a lot of credit unions are waiving those restrictions, however I don't have the wherewithal to call all of the ones in Brooklyn asking if they're one. So: if anyone in Northern Brooklyn managed to switch and can recommend a credit union I could also join, please memail me. Thank you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:28 AM on November 5, 2011


I was seeing the "you have to be a member of this church to join...." notes.

I'm part of an awesome (tech-industry) CU, and I know someone who wanted in but didn't qualify, then was able to get membership on account of someone in the family already having membership. There are often unexpected ways to get in.

As you say, calling them all may be too much work, but if you find 2-3 highly recommended ones, maybe those are worth some extra attention?
posted by -harlequin- at 5:49 AM on November 5, 2011


(harlequin, I also was kind of hoping people would memail me with ideas so I didn't derail everything unintentionally. Sorry I didn't make that clear.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:53 AM on November 5, 2011


Have you looked for a CU here: http://www.mycreditunion.gov/pages/mcu-map.aspx
posted by zia at 6:09 AM on November 5, 2011


The fact that i have to know someone who knows someone, or be the "right kind of person", fuck that.

When it happens, there are simple and practical reasons for it. One reason is that financial service institutions are essentially a group of people, and that group will best fulfil the needs of those members if most people in it at least share similar goals for what the group should do. Another reason is that your group will get the lowest costs and the best loans and the lowest insurance etc. if the people that make up that group are unusually financially excellent. So the more exclusive a credit union's membership can be (while still having critical mass) the better it is for every member of that credit union.

Not all credit unions are exclusive, but there is a range available which should and does include niche and exclusive ones, that offer advantages over regular institutions - if you can qualify. And the way they are able to offer those advantages, is simply by being a pool of people who don't drain or strain the common pool. These unions can offer staggeringly good loans as their norm, for example because their members are vastly less likely to default than regular institutions, and every member benefits from that.

In some cases, specialized membership allows for tailored services. Members are generally much more benefited by attention on these services, and generally much less benefited by attention on those services. So members get excellence in the services they use, without paying an unnecessary premium for excellence in services where they only need bare-bones once in a blue moon.

Those credit unions that do have a target membership do so because it is good and sensible thing to do. If you're not a particular CU's target, don't get pissy about it, just move on to the CU for which you are the target.

It's like dating - if you're simply not a particular person's "type", that's not a slur on you (or them) it just means you're going to find your happiness with someone else.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:26 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The credit unions with membership restrictions will sometimes have workarounds. UFCU in Austin is ostensibly for University staff, faculty & students, but they've set up a deal with Wheatsville Food Coop so that coop members can join, and you can join the food coop from a banker's desk as you set up a new account.

Also, Wheatsville is pretty awesome.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:50 AM on November 5, 2011


I really like my CU which encourages online banking, and because they don't have a physical branch in our town, they pay for most of our ATM transactions. I should say though that I was surprised that the first the thing they did when we re-fied and used them for the new mortgage, was to sell that mortgage, within a month, to a huge bank. I guess that made the most sense for them, but having our mortgage at our CU was one of our objectives, though they had a very competitive rate, and the lowest costs. That said, we just applied for a car loan and while we didn't qualify for their best rate, they automatically appealed the decision of the credit counselor and the member board later approved the loan at 1.49%. I like business models that are NFPs and member owned. Co-ops and credit unions are the best of both socialism and capitalism, all in one organization. But if you're not occasionally active in those organizations beyond using their services, you're doing it wrong.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:28 AM on November 5, 2011


The fact that i have to know someone who knows someone, or be the "right kind of person", fuck that.

I thought that was part of the legal restrictions set on CUs so they couldn't threaten (economically) the banks: you could only join if you worked in the right industry or whatever. I haven't checked out the local ones here in Austin, but I know in Houston the one I belonged to on the west side was open to anyone who lived or worked in a certain set of zip codes. I just looked up the Austin Telco CU website and they're for anyone who lives, works, and worships (!) in a five-county area. For most CUs, I think the restrictions are pretty nominal these days.

(Also that's really useful to know about the refi, since we're going to be looking into that. Thanks, Toekneesan.)
posted by immlass at 8:13 AM on November 5, 2011


Britain doesn't have a "Guy Fawkes Day", whatever wikipedia might think. It's Bonfire Night, FFS.
posted by ComfySofa at 8:44 AM on November 5, 2011


Britain doesn't have a "Guy Fawkes Day", whatever wikipedia might think. It's Bonfire Night, FFS.

The British Parliament website, the British Embassy and Encyclopaedia Britannica say it's acceptable usage.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:00 AM on November 5, 2011


I just opened a CU account here, it was super easy, they didn't look me up or down or anything, and now my checking account has a 2.5% interest rate!

I needed an auto loan and that got me shopping for loans, and the local CU offered me the best loan even though I was not yet a customer, of course I had to become a customer and open an account to get the loan. But we are now transferring everything over. It is a PITA of course we have about 10 different autopays, which is a little nerve wracking. I'll just leave $500 in my old account for a month or two before i close it out.

It was odd too, since I sort of thought I was mister savvy and shopped all over the internet for the best loan and then my wife popped into a local CU on a whim to see what they could do, and it beat them all.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:06 AM on November 5, 2011


The fact that i have to know someone who knows someone, or be the "right kind of person", fuck that.

That doesn't relate in any way to my experience.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:08 AM on November 5, 2011


Does anyone know of a credit union with two-factor online authentication?
posted by odinsdream at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2011


Does anyone know of a credit union with two-factor online authentication?

First Tech offers 2-factor.
posted by iamabot at 9:14 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Asparagirl: The teller told me that credit unions were inconvenient, and that for her and her lifestyle, running around doing stuff, she liked the ability to just pop into a bank branch.

I love this. "Hey, I'm a bank teller. I'm on my break. Got me some personal banking to do. Guess I'll pop into a bank branch. Now, which branch? How about this one I'm in right here? So convenient! YAY BANKS!"
posted by hangashore at 9:16 AM on November 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


The $5 debit card fee was the final straw for me as well. I recently closed my BoA account and joined OnPoint Credit Union here in Portland. On Point is open to people who live and work in the area.

When I heard about the $5 fee, I went into my local BoA branch to find out just what the deal was. The banker went into a sales pitch about how recent legislation yadda yadda banks are a business and have to make a profit yadda yadda and not having a bank account puts you at a serious disadvantage yadda yadda.

He also went on to tell me that because I deposited enough in my accounts that I wouldn't be charged those fees. Great! So you're only screwing the poor! That's a relief.

I patiently and politely explained that his defense of their $5 fee didn't hold water and I left.
I think 21¢ per transaction is still way too high for moving a few bytes of data over a network.

The next week I consolidated all of my accounts into one account. The same guy helped me, but he didn't remember me. As I was leaving he handed me a brochure advertising a deal they were having where if I refer someone to sign up for a new checking account they'd give me $25. I just sort of looked at him quizzically. Why did he think I was consolidating my accounts?

A week later, after my direct deposits had gone through to my new account successfully, and the check I wrote myself cleared*, I went in to close my account.

He still didn't remember me, but now they had a surly armed guard at the bank. That was new.

*It took BoA a full week (7 days) to clear my deposit check - my credit union credited my account immediately with no hold on funds. fBoa.
posted by device55 at 9:39 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the thing that gets me most about this, is that the big banks are almost universally disliked by consumers. Everyone has a story where they feel specifically wronged in one of their interactions with them, and the banks simply don't care. There is always another consumer out there to milk fees from. They care less about deposits than they do about setting up a structure where they can suck a few dollars out of every transaction. They are there to make money after all, but that desire to make money has shifted from investing their deposits (they'll do that too), to shaving account balances in every conceivable way.

My father is in the banking industry, the industry essentially funded my upbringing, it continues to provide for my family, but after 40 years in the industry my dad can't engage in a reasonable conversation about their behavior over the last 10 years. This is an incredibly smart man, someone who genuinely cares for his kids, who brought us up specifically to have a solid head on their shoulders when it comes to matters of finance. Against all that he simply can't have a rational discussion about policy, responsibility and culpability with his middle aged kids. It's gotten so bad that talking about banks or the financial crisis with him around is simply a banned subject across my siblings and our friends when we're hanging out with him.

Ultimately that's the point I guess, the banking industry at the top has had very little turnover. People have worked for the same financial institutions for 20,30, 40 years. The banks that existed when they were down at the interface with customers level no longer exist. They've been merged and squeezed for profit margins and lobbied themselves in to something that they themselves don't even recognize, and it's an immense hungry, irrational monster. It cares nothing for customers because there is always another one out there. It serves the investors, the shareholders are the customers and the people who interact with them are the field of fees to be reaped. Sure you have to seed that field every now and then with some loans, and there are plenty of places to sow fee and interest bearing charges in the consumer credit market.

Credit unions being more member driven avoid much of this specifically because they are small, the distance from the top to the depositor is much smaller. It's easier to remember why they are there, and it's harder to justify fees to your shareholders when they are the people impacted by them. This is why credit unions are better. It's the lower fees, and the better interaction and the personalized service, but all of that is because of the distance between the customer and the management of the bank.
posted by iamabot at 10:04 AM on November 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just got back from closing my BoA account, and it feels great!

When I first moved to Boston from DC, I still had a credit union account open from my old job, and was planning on closing that account out and transferring everything over to my new BoA account - it seemed like it would be so easy! And then I realized that I really could do everything just as easily by using a local affiliate of my old credit union, so I pretty much stopped using my BoA account. I think I had less than $10 in it when I closed it out today - maybe that's why they didn't seem super sad to see me go. All of the BoA employees I spoke to today were very pleasant (even when I said the words "credit union"), and it seemed like they had a lot of extra staff running around today in case of chaos. Sorry guys, my credit union is just better.
posted by naoko at 10:15 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The British Parliament website, the British Embassy and Encyclopaedia Britannica say it's acceptable usage.

Piffle.
posted by ComfySofa at 10:37 AM on November 5, 2011


Matt Taibbi: Another Weapon for OWS: Pull Your Money Out of BofA
posted by homunculus at 10:39 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just drove by one of the branches of my credit union. They had a huge BANK TRANSFER DAY, COME IN AND ASK US HOW banner on the building. I found it rather tacky, actually.
posted by Danf at 10:52 AM on November 5, 2011


symbioid, I couldn't believe your claim so I stalked your MeFi profile and found the credit union with the Guy Fawkes ad. Just surreal.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:19 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting, the Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi linked by homunculus, and the related Zero Hedge article, explain that Bank of America recently moved trillions of Merrill Lynch's bad derivatives onto the books of it's retail arm, meaning they wrote themselves a bailout using ordinary people's accounts.

Imho, such a move goes beyond simply 'switch for moral reasons' into 'drive your grand mother to the credit union' territory, not because you want to contribute to a run on BoA, but because you might not think about the danger later.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:30 PM on November 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Alan Moore understands Guy Fawkes Night rather well : Yes, our British friends have burned a Guy Fawkes effigy from time-to-time, but actually they burn an effigy of the Prime Minister whenever the government is unpopular

There are actually many different Credit Unions using the Guy Fawkes mask for advertising, which sounds wonderful imho. I'll be impressed if anyone finds a bank using it though, especially a mid sized bank.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:41 PM on November 5, 2011


Does it count if I close my BoA credit cards? I don't bank with them, but hate them enough to close a huge credit-line card just to stick it to them an iota more.
posted by tristeza at 1:47 PM on November 5, 2011


My credit union instituted a $5 per month charge on all checking accounts this month.
posted by Ery at 2:01 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been a member of a small, local credit union (CCEC) since 1984. (My housing co-op banks there, too, as well as many local arts groups and political organizations.) They've lent me money when my credit rating was shot from defaulting on my student loans, they've held onto cheques for a day or two rather than declaring them NSF, thus giving me time to cover the overdraft, and I'm on a first name basis with the people who work there (some of whom I've known, as friends, for years). It's a great place, set up to serve the community back in the early 80s, and I love it to bits. I'd never have an account at a bank, and I'm chuffed to see so many people moving from the banks to credit unions.
posted by jokeefe at 2:06 PM on November 5, 2011


Does it count if I close my BoA credit cards?

Absolutely.
posted by device55 at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2011


Ery, who is your credit union? What on earth did they give as a reason for the charge?
posted by domo at 3:29 PM on November 5, 2011


Just got back from closing the account. No muss, no fuss, no drama. But we arrived five minutes before closing time and were the last customers of the day, so they had to unlock the doors to let us back out into the parking lot when we were done. I joked with the bank officer, "Well, that's one way to keep your customers from leaving!"
posted by Asparagirl at 3:33 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about closing my Wells Fargo account, does anyone know if I can do so without closing my credit card with them? I'd close the CC too, but I'm moving in a few months, and need all the credit points I can get. I haven't used either in years, but I've had no particular reason to close the accounts. I think I'd like to do it now to add to the thumb in the eye they're currently getting, though.

That said, I plan to stick with Charles Schwab, which is the checking account I actually use. It's a no-minimum-balance, no-monthly-fee account that also gives me bill pay and lets me use any ATM anywhere, and refunds the fees the ATM charges. The account does require that I have a brokerage account open, which is fine by me, because I need a place to have a 401k anyway. Schwab has ETFs that are pretty well regarded that I can trade for free, which is another win.
posted by !Jim at 4:00 PM on November 5, 2011


Re-reading my post, no I do not work for Charles Scwab.
posted by !Jim at 4:01 PM on November 5, 2011


I hate banks
Just can't stand 'em
Give me a shovel
And man, I plant 'em
Six feet under that's where they belong
I hate banks is the name of this song.


Mojo Nixon really ought to come out of semi-retirement or whatever he's doing and become the unofficial and hilariously furious bard of the OWS movement.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:05 PM on November 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just fyi, the zero hedge article notes that BoA has placed itself on many military bases, meaning spreading all this information to servicemen might help close more accounts quicker.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:30 PM on November 5, 2011


Count me in on the Leaving B of A Train - just switched over to Salem Five this morning.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:56 PM on November 5, 2011


Ery, who is your credit union? What on earth did they give as a reason for the charge?

It's BCM FCU. I think they must be struggling (I have no inside information, just basing it on what I'm quoting here). Unlike the banks, they can't be making big profits. Interest rates are so low these days and everyone's had to deal with foreclosures. They wrote:
"As a cooperative, we try to keep our fees low. However, with rising costs, it is necessary to make pricing adjustments. Effective October 31, 2011, our basic checking will incur a $5 monthly charge to offset member processing expenses. Thank-you for your loyalty!!!"
My loyalty was sufficient for me to keep my savings account, but I shifted all my direct deposit setups over to it. As soon as they all went through, I closed the checking account. I simply don't have the income to justify spending $60 a year on a checking account. I can pay my credit card bill online from the savings account for free, and I never did like the idea of a debit card.

They're also ending the cash-back and travel rewards programs for their credit cards:
"Effective November 1, 2011, BCM FCU will not offer a travel rewards or cash back program for MasterCard and VISA credit card holders. Members will have until December 31, 2011 to redeem any outstanding travel reward points."
I found a very conveniently located local bank with free checking and debit card, so my son's planning to open a checking account with them next week, close his credit union checking account and keep his savings account with them.

Credit union elections are coming up. I never cared enough to pay much attention to them before, but now I have questions to ask all the candidates.
posted by Ery at 5:21 PM on November 5, 2011


The Non-Adventures of Wonderella weighs in (sorta)
posted by rebent at 5:57 PM on November 5, 2011


This makes me very happy! I've been with my CU for many years and still managed to get screwed by the big banks, albeit indirectly. I had a really awesome very low interest HELOC that replaced my credit cards entirely. I was able to easily pay off debt and manage emergency spending. It was the best financial ass-covering ever.

In '08 when the housing thing hit the fan my line of credit was cut off in short order and it wasn't easy. I had to totally change my business plan and way of living, which of course, cost much more. (Interesting tidbit...my home is in one of the few neighborhoods that has actually increased in value in the last few years.)

This run against the banks is good because they're going to feel it to some extent in their bottoms lines. It's a kick in the pants for sure. However, we all know that the top dogs won't feel a thing. In response they'll cut back and lay off starting at the bottom.

Hopefully though, the big dogs will realize that we the people can accomplish things like this. That we can effect change with or without our government.
posted by snsranch at 6:14 PM on November 5, 2011


Guy Fawkes Day is a new one on me. Despite appeals to the web, usage of that term marks you out as a non-Brit, we refer to it as Bonfire night as the day has no particular significance. Odd for a convicted terrorist to have a day named after him. Does this mean May 2nd has a name?
posted by epo at 6:19 AM on November 6, 2011


epo, lots of brits would (and have) disagreed with you on that. Much like, I suspect, a lot of americans don't know that labor day is a celebration of the legal battles fought by unions.
posted by rebent at 8:34 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Labor Day is going to be changed to Capital Day anyway.
posted by homunculus at 8:50 AM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I cringe when I hear these banking horror stories, far too similar to the ones I've heard IRL to be a coincidence. So, in the interest of parity, let me share the most disturbing thing about m experience with my local credity union:

There are two branches in town. One is out in the suburbs a bit and only does drive-through transactions and loan paperwork stuff. This kind of irks me, but the branch really is kind of in the middle of nowhere, off any bus line, and it's ludicrous to think that anyone might actually need to walk there. Plus, they're flexible enough that, if that were the case, I'm confident they'd let a guy with no car hammer his check in the loan office. The other one is downtown, near where I work. My biggest problem with this branch is a woman I'll call Gladys.

Gladys is too nice, too interested in my life, and too helpful. When I walk in on Friday, I want to deposit my check, keep a few bucks in cash, pick up a sixpack on the way home, and relax. Instead, once I get up to the counter, Gladys pulls up my account and is interested to know who I was sending money to in Poland last week. This is the first she's learned of my polish fiancee, and I politely tell her the story about how we met, when she'll be able to come over on a visa, how my experience was in Poland, etc. We talk about the tough jobs market. Finally she reminds me that the CU has other members who work at the same employer I do, and that they offer direct deposit. She does this every payday, and I have to remind her that as an hourly employee, I don't qualify. Finally she reminds me that my visa bill is due the following week, and that she knows I don't want to set up autopayment, but that she thinks it's a good idea because that way I won't forget to pay it. We talk about my Dad, who is also a member, and his health. Gladys and my Dad are both diabetic, and she behooves me to make sure he's checking his sugar often enough.

In short, what would have been a two minute transaction with any other teller stretches to fifteen. In the meantime, I am reminded that the CU is a bunch of actual people, whose names I actually know, and will probably remember my circumstances if not my actual name if, if I come in to get a replacement ATM card or scope out rates on an auto loan.
posted by LiteOpera at 9:08 AM on November 6, 2011


The credit union I've been a member of (modulo mergers) for over thirty years has recently started referring to itself as a "customer owned bank" and addressing me as "Dear customer", provoking me into a borderline-OCD exchange of emails protesting about this. Apparently management has commissioned some surveys that show that the term "member" is "not well understood in the context of financial institutions in Australia" and decided that "customer owned bank" is a more marketing-friendly description than "credit union".

Maybe I'll send the guy a link to this thread.
posted by flabdablet at 9:58 AM on November 6, 2011


BofA Threatens Family With Foreclosure Over $1 'Coding Error'
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Banks Quietly Ramping Up Costs to Consumers
posted by homunculus at 12:08 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anyone seen that Ally bank has quietly started releasing ads that address people's concerns about fees?...

The first one is made to look like a "secret camera" footage of a guy stopping another guy in a parking lot and saying "I gotta go do something, can you watch my briefcase for me? It's got ten grand in it." The other guy nods, looking freaked out, and the first guy says "thanks, I'll be right back," and the other guy is sitting there holding this briefcase and looking a little nervous. The voiceover claims that "we tried asking a bunch of people to watch our money, and they didn't take any. When you ask your BANK to watch your money, how much do they take?"

Then there's another one with a guy getting cash from an ATM, and it mentions that there's a $3 fee to withdraw cash -- he is prompted to either "accept" or "don't accept" the fee. His finger hovers over "don't accept" for several seconds as he thinks of other people telling him things like "what can we do about it," "the banks are in control," "you may as well just accept it, it's not that big," and then his girlfriend finally prods him that they're going to miss the movie and he sighs and presses "accept" and gets his money. Cue the "switch to Ally, we don't charge fees" pitch.

Anyone else seen these? I wonder how long it took to put them together.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:17 PM on November 14, 2011


Some states like South Carolina and California issue unemployment benefits using Bank of America prepaid debit cars, from which Bank of America then deducts debit card fees.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:32 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


A Season for Krampus
posted by homunculus at 3:52 PM on November 19, 2011


Interesting, but again Brits burn the PM in effigy way more often than they burn Guy Fawkes, making the mask a symbol of revolution.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:20 PM on November 19, 2011


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